Win a Seat with Randy Petersen on Star MegaDO 4 (and $400 charitable donation + me win an iPad)

Ever dream of a time when airlines and hotels treated you like a VIP? Ever want to have an insider’s look at the travel industry? And to spend it listening to one-upmanship exploits told in code words like ‘CPM’ and about lawsuits against shopping portals?

…then Star MegaDO 4 is your dream come true.

The event is November 13-17, the schedule begins in San Francisco, on to Houston, and wraps up in Chicago, featuring charter flights on United and events with United and Hyatt.

Before you read further, be aware that if you win the contest you are responsible for your positioning flights to San Francisco and returning from Chicago. You need to be available November 13-17, so check your calendar. Also must 18 years of age or older.

The Contest:

BoardingArea, which hosts this blog, is giving away two seats next to BoardingArea founder and miles guru Randy Petersen on Star MegaDO 4. 29 BoardingArea blogs are participating (list and details here). You are allowed one entry per blog. Each blog will select one finalist, 29 finalists in total, and of those, Randy Petersen will randomly select the 2 contest winners. Each winner will be awarded one seat. Full rules here.

The Prize:

The seat giveaway gift from Randy Petersen consists of one economy ticket on the 2012 StarMegaDo4, hotel accommodations at partner hotels, and $250 cash for personal expenses. Expenses not specified above, including, but not limited to ground transportation and incidentals, are winner’s responsibility.

How to enter:

Reply with a comment on this post in answer to the below Question no later than 11:59:59 pm MT October 7, 2012. One entry per person. Per person. Not per email address/IP address/etc. Attempts at multiple entries will be disqualified. Comments that are obviously SPAM or do not answer the Question will be disqualified up to the sole discretion of Rapid Travel Chai.

The finalist will be selected at random by Rapid Travel Chai and the result posted on Rapid Travel Chai as an update to this post on October 8, 2012.

You must leave your legal given name and first letter of your surname as your name in the comment.

You must leave a valid email address. Your email address will not be used by Rapid Travel Chai for any purpose other than to give the finalist’s email address to BoardingArea for final drawing, and possibly for a thank you note from Rapid Travel Chai for entry.


Randy Peterson has dedicated his life to helping others. Millions of people have benefited directly and indirectly by his efforts large and small. His business projects, such as Star MegaDO 4, often involve charity components. In the spirit of his work, the Question to answer is:

How have you helped a traveler you did not previously know?

Where applicable, please provide details that can help or inspire other travelers. For instance, if you shared a tip with someone having a meltdown at an airport, share the tip here. If you donated miles to fly someone for a worthy charity, share it here. If you stopped to help someone with a spare tire, share that.

But wait, what if you are the Rapid Travel Chai finalist but do not win the Star MegaDO 4 seat?

In the spirit of giving back, and the 4th Star MegaDo, Rapid Travel Chai will make a $400 donation on behalf of the Rapid Travel Chai finalist to a charity of the finalist’s selection. This donation will be made whether or not the finalist wins the Star MegaDo 4 seat.

Charity must be an IRS Except Organization (see here). Any tax treatment/benefits pertaining to the donation will be applicable to Rapid Travel Chai in accord with standard charitable donation practice for gifts on behalf of others.

About that iPad:

Full disclosure – the two BoardingArea blogs from which the two winners are randomly selected will each win an iPad from BoardingArea. I have never purchased an Apple product. This may open the flood gates like when a friend gave me my first G.I. Joe figure at my age 4 birthday party.

Update October 8:

The winner has been selected and is #134 Moshe P, see here for further details.

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178 Comments on "Win a Seat with Randy Petersen on Star MegaDO 4 (and $400 charitable donation + me win an iPad)"

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Hao Tran

I won a raffle for two tickets to the Orbit Tower in the Olympic Park – I had to leave immediately so I couldn’t bring anyone I knew. Outside the park entry gates I gave away my spare ticket to a middle aged man who had come to London down from Newcastle just to get a glimpse of the park!


We found a foreign tourist wandering about the airport in Italy. She had no idea how to get to the train station downtown – no public transportation, on a Sunday, and no ATM availability. We took her with us to the rental car station, packed her in our new rental, and gave her a ride downtown to the train station. She then happily boarded the train to go to visit her relatives.


I dont have anything big but i did switch seats with someone so that she could sit with her family.


Offered a meal to someone when I had a $25 voucher and all I wanted was a coffee, why let the remaining $21 go to waste.


I was at the airport and a family of 3 was going to be separated. 2 tickets ( I guess wife & kid was on one reservation); so I told hte gate agent the husband can take my seat and I”ll take the next flight out.


I gave a stranger a couple of my “have one on us” drink coupons and allowed them to join me in the Skyclub as my partner.

tiffany l

whenever i see a person who looks lost, or studying a map, i now make a point of asking if they need help finding something. it’s time to pay it fwd for all of the times i’ve received directions from strangers!

Todd R

Yes, I regularly assist with the placing of items in overhead bins as well as there removal when assistance is obviously needed.

Saad Bhamla

I took another fellow passenger as a guest on my lounge pass in India. I think that made the day for both of us.

Abhishek D

I assisted someone who spoke Gujarati but not much English with the completion of her customs & immigration forms in flight.


I recently had some expiring drink tickets but did not have the occasion to use them. I spotted 2 parents battling 4 children boarding a red eye. I don’t think I’ve ever received a look that said “thank you” better than the look I received from those 2 parents upon handing them the drink tickets.

Gail Schultz

I used to have opportunities to help travelers all the time when I lived in San Francisco. One afternoon while running errands on Union Street I encountered four separate German tourists and was able to direct each of them to the Youth Hostel out on Fort Mason. I always wondered if they knew each other. -Gail S.

Scott C
I was at the passport office getting my daughters passport. The lady in front of me was getting her daughters and getting an expedite for quick travel overseas, and the passport agent was being the typical unhelpful govt employee. The lady only had cash and they would only accept check or money order. It was close to closing on friday so she had to make it work. She told her to go buy a money order and they would shut the door promptly at 4 and shred her docs if she was not back by then. I stepped in and… Read more »

I helped a traveler make sure she was getting a vegetarian meal on a flight where she didn’t speak English.

David H.

Multiple times I have translated for someone who didn’t speak English. One elderly lady was trying to visit her son and daughter in law in Los Angeles. She’d been stuck at IAD for 8 hours on standby. I translated for her to make sure she got on the plane. I then used a companion upgrade to have her put in first class. She’d never been happier.

While waiting to board a Southwest flight in Corpus Christi , severla years ago , alady was tlking very loudly on her phone for 20 minutes or more , annoying everyone around her, when she finally hung up and started to place another call, I stood up and said , “could you please place your call outside the waitng area, you have been disturbing everyone “, much to my surprise, about 18 or 20 people stood up around me, and said did you hear what he said “, she disgustedly stomped off, to place her call. 2 things followed that,… Read more »

I was on a flt recently where the dude left his wallet at the counter on checkin and had no money so I gave him $150 bucks and told him to send me back whatever and gave him my business card. Ended up being an Academy Award winning composer and not only did I get the money back, I also got a signed copy of the DVD (Forest Gump)from him! was awesome.

As a UA frequent flyer, I often fly solo…but don’t want my elite companion privilege to go to waste. If I see availability in the F cabin but only few people waiting for an upgrade, I’ll ask the gate agents to extend my companion upgrade to a stranger. The catch: the stranger needs to be a wheelchair passenger flying solo, a senior citizen flying solo, or someone in a military uniform. The availability of companion upgrades had greatly diminished over the years, but the fact I was able to put a smile on many strangers’ faces over the years makes… Read more »

I have a Milepoint More Miles luggage tag on my computer bag. That has started many conversations with seatmates, some of whom were not bothering to accrue miles (gasp)! I think I have been an effective evangelist in more than one case.

-Rob K

Mike Stuben

I am always glad to help when I can. Often simple things like giving directions or answering questions.


On my way to Nairobi…msp to ord to Amsterdam to Nairobi. Single mom with 2 little kids..played stepdad and tried to help out as best i could.


So many people…on so many trips have helped me over the years!! I try to help in any way possible.


Little things…letting people go first…helping people lift their bags to overhead storage…etc.


“Whatsoever you do for the least of my children…that you do unto me” (Jesus)

LIH Prem

I introduced a fellow traveler and blogger to Randy. 🙂

gave away all sorts of stuff in coupon connection, nothing in return requested.


Eric W

When I’m home in New York City, I always try to help tourist when I see them looking at their map on the street.


I live in a large tourist location. I participate daily on the Tripadvisor board to help tourists better enjoy my local area.

spe salvi

I don’t have anything major to say but I have switched many times so that a couple could sit together, parent/child etc. I have offered to watch someone luggage/hold bag etc while helping out a mother and baby in the restroom

Mark S.

Living in a touristy area of Boston, I’ve often provided directions, restaurant recommendations, etc.

Jing Li

little things like letting people go first, giving them directions, etc


Being larger, I have helped many folks hoist their bulging carryons onto the overhead section… Better for those sitting under the bag as well and seems to help make everyone around happier.


Recently on my last flight I was getting my luggage at the baggage carousel in PEK when an American teenager approached me and asked me if I knew how to get to the subway from the airport. It was his first time in Beijing, and he didn’t know barely any Chinese, so I walked him to the train stop and purchased his ticket and drew him a map of where he wanted to go.


I have shown ways to people to earn miles and points


I have lent my cell phone to a traveler experiencing a travel emergency.


Someone asked me where an airline was and it turned out they were in the wrong airport. The correct airport wasn’t too far from my house so I drove them there.

Chris T

I’ve led multiple groups of hiker’s back to the trailhead when they’ve gotten lost on the trail. I happened upon one group who I could tell were out of their element and was called to help by another group. Always great to be able to help.

Michael H.(oldfox)
Recently I was returning to the US after taking an intensive Russian language course in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I had a long layover in Frankfurt and at the gate for my flight there were almost no people. A very old lady approached and almost in tears started speaking Russian to me. What a shock! She obviously was in distress, and she told me she couldn’t speak German or English. So…….I simply talked with her in Russian and tried to comfort her loneliness. After 15 minutes, some Lufthansa agents came and one spoke really good Russian….. much better than my Russian. The… Read more »

A few weeks ago, a member of the military was flying across from me in coach on a Delta flight and wanted to watch a movie on his TV screen, but didn’t have a credit card. I bought it for him (at least I got a 20% discount for using my DL AMEX!).


I have given a lot of directions and taken a lot of pictures for fellow travelers.


Often times I have come across elderly people from India visting their children in the US. WHen they land in US they are quite lost due to language problems. I have often helped them in the Immigration clearance and buggage claim and helped them all the way out to their waiting children. Nice feeling.


I escorted a very lost South Korean student through Dubai International Airport at 2am, using the bare handful of Korean words I know, and she burst into tears with happiness when she finally got to her gate and that the airline was holding the plane just for her.

WB Lee

Helped a first-time visitor to the US get to her connecting flight (barely made it) after waiting two hours for her to clear immigration.

Andrew C

I always take a photo when asked… and that’s pretty often because I’m always carrying a gigantic camera or two.


At LAX, walked up to the gate & gave away a UA Systemwide upgrade to a stranger waiting to board LAX-LHR.

Best part was I later found out the stranger had fallen while in LA & injured her leg which forced her to cut the trip short & return early to London.


I generally offer advice about rebooking to fellow passengers if I’m standing near the podium at the gate waiting for my own inquiry to the gate agent.


I was flying on UA NRT-SFO in E+ when a girl at the gate was obviously ill and asked if she could get an aisle seat instead of her E- middle seat. The flight was overbooked, so the gate agent said no. I gave her my E+ seat.

I’ll give you two instances of helping fellow travelers, one light and the other a little on the heavy side. . In Mandalay this summer we purchased the fairly expensive tickets that grant admission to a variety of sites near the city. This tickets are generally reckoned to benefit the ruling junta rather than contributing directly (or entirely) to the upkeep of the sites. When we left we passed the tickets, which had several days of validity left, along to several backpackers in our guesthouse. . Years ago, in a youth hostel in the south of France, I was called… Read more »
Lewis F.

Whenever I see someone with a “lost in space” look, or looking at a map I offer directions.


i helped someone in my broken spanish get the meal she wanted